A movement known as Queers in Property (QIP) has formed in Melbourne in an effort to create a platform for LGBTIQ+ people in property and construction to connect and support one another by building a safe and inclusive community and help change attitudes in a heteronormative industry.
With research across all industries revealing that 32 per cent of LGBTIQ+ people are out to everyone at work, QIP noted that these (already alarmingly low) statistics did not seem to ring true for those in property and construction.
QIP found the level of openness and acceptance didn’t seem to align with available research and in certain sectors within the industry, members still find it difficult to be open about their same-sex attraction or gender diversity.
Their research also found that many LGBTIQ+ individuals are still concerned that being out might negatively impact their career prospects and professional development, or worse, make them a target for bullying and harassment.
It is for this reason that Queers In Property was formed, led by Meg Patten, Marketing Manager at Riverlee; Ben Rowe, Senior Development Manager at Riverlee and Rossco Karabeles, National Director at The Property Agency, who collectively boast over 30 years of industry experience, as well as a board of energetic and committed QIPs.
Meg explained that the property industry can feel intimidating and even unsafe to anyone who is not a straight identifying cisgender male or female.
“Being a queer woman in property isn’t easy, simply because we are a double minority and there isn’t many. By growing a member focussed network and being visible, we hope to empower our LGBTIQ+ community to be their most authentic self in an industry that is not always inclusive.
We aim to build a diverse queer movement representing all identities and abilities through the power of visibility. Through seeing each other and being seen, we challenge discriminatory attitudes, increase self-worth and champion acceptance,” she said.
With an underlying purpose to change the heteronormative attitudes and constructs within an industry shaped by privilege, Queers in Property builds inclusivity and representation and cultivates a community of queerleaders; a queer person who is a champion of change within the property industry.
The first official QIP networking event launched at The Commons QV on Friday, October 11 and coincided with National Coming Out Day, a day which honours a courageous journey for any LGBTIQ+ person.
The event, fittingly named The Coming Out, shone a light on the challenges that LGBTIQ+ people face in the workplace and focused on empowering everyone to bring their most authentic selves to work.
The panel of speakers included Chris McCue Director of Architecture and Interiors at Carr, January Jones Lifestyle Editor at Domain, and Victoria Dixon Graduate at Multiplex.
QIP co-founder Rossco Karabeles said the event acted as a catalyst to encourage every queer to connect with each other and to build their own contact network for professional and personal support.
“We want to break the stigma that queer people face within the property industry, help educate and facilitate good practice, queer policies and encourage a safe environment where the queer community can come together to champion, promote, support and empower themselves, ultimately walking away with a sense of purpose,” said Ross.